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Floods in Nigeria kill 500, displace 1.4 million people

Widespread flooding, caused by extreme rainfall and the release of excess water from a dam in neighboring Cameroon has displaced 1.4 million Nigerians and claimed 500 lives, according to government officials.

The floods were also injured 1,546 people, 70,566 hectares of farmland completely destroyed and 45,249 houses “totally damaged,” said Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Nigeria’s permanent secretary at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Floods affected 27 of Nigeria’s 36 states, officials said:.

Satellite images from Landsat 9 showed a large swelling of the Niger and Benue rivers in southern Nigeria, where NASA wrote that flooding “swept many communities”. Where the rivers converged, the images revealed that the water flooded Lokoja, the capital of Kogi state.

“The flooding continued southwards, including a noticeably widespread area spanning southern Kogi and northern Anambra state,” NASA reported.

Last week, 76 people drowned in Anambra when their boat capsized while trying to escape high water, according to multiple news organizations. The floodwaters had risen to rooftops in Kogi and Anambra, CNN reported. More than 600,000 people have been displaced in Anambra as a result of flooding.

“It’s sad. Suddenly people run out of houses and turn into beggars in weeks. As rich as they were, the displacement has diminished them so much,” said Chiamaka Ibeanu, a registered nurse who lives in Onitsha, Anambra State. told The Washington Post.

Ibeanu’s immediate family lives in Ossomari and Atani, near Anambra close to the Niger River. She was informed that her aunt and uncle had moved after their house was completely flooded.

“The Items They” [her aunt] couldn’t pack, be in the water… and she has no other house,” Ibeanu said. “Without housing in the Primary Healthcare Centre, she would have been stranded.”

Since the start of the rainy season in Nigeria, which lasts from April to October, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) and the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) forecast that flooding was imminent and some parts of the country would witness more rain combined with water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. They foresaw that water volume would increase throughout Nigeria.

“[C]communities need to recognize that all disasters are local and take climate forecasts and flood warnings seriously,” said Alhaji Ali Grema, Nigeria’s director of humanitarian affairs.

Sani-Gwarzo said the magnitude of this year’s floods is comparable to the last major flood that Nigeria experienced in 2012, which displaced 1.3 million people and killed 431 people. In 2012, 30 of the 36 Nigerian states were affected.

“The extent of the devastation can only be compared to the floods of 2012,” Sadiya Umar, the humanitarian minister, said in a statement.

The subsidence of agricultural land has led to fears of increasing food insecurity and higher food prices.

“Their lands are covered with the flood. This means what was planted will be wiped out and there may be food shortages next year,” Ibeanu said.

The Department of Humanitarian Affairs said the federal government has pledged to help all communities.

“We are taking all necessary measures to provide assistance to the people affected by the flooding. All relevant agencies have renewed their commitment to strengthen their efforts to reach the victims and provide assistance to them,” said Sani-Gwarzo.

On Friday, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs announced that the Nigerian government had begun distributing 12,000 tons of food and non-food items to states devastated by the floods.

Nigeria’s National Policy Paper on Climate Change, published in 2020, states that flooding has increased in recent years and that climate change is expected to “increase the frequency and intensity of severe weather events”.

“Unfortunately, many states in Nigeria largely lack the infrastructure needed to adequately respond to such events,” the report said.

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